After the birth of my second child, it became evident that due to the high cost of childcare, my ridiculous 2-hour commute, and the difficult transition from one to two small children, I needed to stay at home–for a season. But, here I am, three children and six years later, still at home.
Transitioning to a full-time stay-at-home mom wasn’t easy for me, but I desperately wanted to be present for my children; I didn’t love the idea of them being looked after by someone else for most of the day, and I hated feeling like there was never enough time. Still, I came into the role kicking and screaming.
The real struggle transitioning to being at home was the nagging, persistent questions that plagued my thoughts:
“What will people think about me?”
“Am I wasting the best years of my life being at home?”
“Will I be good at being a “full-time” mom?”
Taking care of tiny humans full time is hard work! I underestimated the physical and emotional strain of caring for my children without any breaks. But it was all worth it when I was there for them to squeak out, “Mama,” or see their first steps, or linger over breakfast talking about God’s creation.
So if you are feeling a little weary today, Momma, let me give you an encouraging boost to keep on, to getting all the hugs and kisses you can, and keep up the hope that one day you will be able to go to the bathroom by yourself.
1. This Season Won't Last Forever
I know, I know, from the older woman at the grocery store to your pediatrician, everyone feels they must give you this advice. One day while shopping with my four, two, and three-month-old, I remember a well-meaning lady tapping me on the shoulder. My oldest was having a complete meltdown, my middle child was touching every breakable item in the store, and my baby had just thrown up on me. She sweetly smiled and whispered, “Don’t blink; they will grow up before your eyes.” I turned and began rapidly moving my eyes, “I’m blinking, but nothing is happening!”
Today, my girls are 8,6, and 4, and shopping, while never uneventful, is more manageable. My oldest girl can go to the bathroom by herself, my middle daughter helps wrangle her sister, and my youngest child carries bags to the car– quite a different experience.
So take heart if you are in a season of littles; they grow to be more self-sufficient. They eventually learn to moderate the volumes of their voices, food extends beyond chicken nuggets, and they can begin to help out. If you are in the tween season and you're burning up the road, one day in the not-so-future, they will have their license and give you some relief. And if your “little one” is headed off to college, your empty nest will offer moments of much-needed relaxation.
2. Stop the Scrolling
Social media is an excellent tool to engage with friends, share precious moments, and learn neat hacks, like how to make a complete meal with five ingredients! But it’s also a breeding ground for comparison and jealousy. Resist the urge to compare your mothering journey with those of others. Remember, people tend only to post what they want you to see, often leaving out the less-than-flattering parts of their lives.
Instead of choosing to live in someone else’s world, enjoy the moments with your children by using your unique gifts and talents. God purposefully gave your child to you; rest in the assurance that you are more than capable of being a great mom, even if it’s not always post-worthy (which is most of the time).
3. Your House Doesn't Need to Look Picture-Perfect
Staying at home all day with small children makes our houses look pretty “lived in,” to put it mildly. Yes, it is important to keep our houses tidy and overall sanitary. However, realize that for right now, every sticky handprint or smeared pb&j will not be immediately wiped clean, not to mention every speck of dust. Children are messy, and truth be told, a lot of adults are too. The state of your home at 5 p.m. does not determine your competence as a mother and wife.
4. It’s Okay if You Don’t Shower Today
For almost ten years, I got up at 5 am, worked out, and put on a pantsuit with full make-up and curled hair. So, the transition to staying at home full time with little children was difficult, mostly because I struggled to find a routine that made sense. Here’s the deal—there’s no need to get fully “dressed” if your plan involves trucking through mud puddles, painting Picasso pieces, and a baby who sporadically projectiles their recent meal.
I promise there will be a time when you can routinely shower and move into things that don’t involve spandex or sweatshirt material, but for now, embrace this season. You aren’t a slob or unkept because you choose to dress in comfortable clothes that allow you to slay dragons with your toddlers or sneak in a walk around the yard while your kiddos nap. And, if maybe a day goes by without a proper shower, that’s okay because I feel confident you were showered with love.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Jessica Peterson
5. Your To-Do's Don't Determine Your Worth
Have you ever felt like you just can’t seem to get it together? I’ve been there and still struggle with this. Satan knows how much we love our children. He also knows how much we cherish the structure and control that planning provides and uses our task-driven need for results to push our children into over-scheduled lives. (I cringe at the thought that there would be nothing to show for how I spent my day.) He wants us to feel lacking when our children fail to “timely” meet some developmental benchmark, crushing our images as effective, efficient mothers.
Momma, know this: you may not see fruit in your labors today, but the hours you selflessly devote to your children will eventually yield good fruit. Our children don’t need packed calendars to make them smarter, more well-rounded, better liked, or happier. This thinking stole the first year I was at home with my girls, leading me to believe that just being with my children was not enough. I took on way too much inside and outside the home, filling each hour with some form of “productivity,” anything besides just being there, being their momma. You don’t have anything to prove; your value is not determined but what you achieve as a mother (or individually). Our worth and identity are in Christ alone; we are covered by grace, so release the need to do “all the things” and embrace the gift of being present with your children today.
6. Give Yourself Grace
Have you ever yelled at your children, only to feel overwhelmed by guilt moments after? Everyone has “off” days. We say the wrong thing, react badly, or just walk around in a funk. This is natural; we are human.
But, on days like this, it is crucial to ask for forgiveness from those we hurt, especially our children. After losing our tempers, we can apologize, admit we were wrong in our actions, and ask for forgiveness.
Give yourself the grace to accept forgiveness and move on. We could spend hours meditating on how we have “failed” as mothers. Instead, let’s lean into the gift of a gracious God who freely offers forgiveness and invites us into a personal relationship with Him. We are not called to be perfect mothers, but instead, point our children to the One who is.
Originally published Monday, 03 October 2022.